High Point gets its first woman assistant chief
It was her goal from the beginning. The moment she decided to embark on a journey through law enforcement, she set her sights on making her way up to assistant chief.
And in February of this year, her dream came true. After six years of being captain of the vice narcotics unit, Maj. Angela Tackett made history by being promoted as the first woman assistant chief of the High Point Police Department.
Her career began in 1986 when she got a job working as a civilian employee. She was 21.
“I actually applied for a police officer position but they didn’t have any openings,” Tackett said. “They had an opening in records and asked me if I wanted that. So, I took it as a step in the door.”
For nine patient months, she worked in records and waited for an opening. As it turned out, luck was on her side. When an opening came about, she began rookie school and, in December that same year, she was sworn in.
“It was exciting,” she said. “I grew up in Randolph County, so I had never really been in any inner-city situation. I’d never really been in housing projects or seen anything like that, so it was very eye opening and educational. I loved it. I love working with people, so I really enjoyed it.”
The first women police officers didn’t begin working in High Point until the late 1970s, she said. Louise Tomlin and Janet Burgess were the first female officers in High Point and Burgess was a lieutenant when Tackett was hired.
“The mind set was different back in the 1960s and 1970s,” Tackett said. “They thought that women didn’t belong in police work. I’m very thankful to the women who came before me because they really laid the groundwork for me to be sitting here today.”
In her office, her accomplishments hung proudly on the wall in the form of pictures and certificates. She sat with a straight posture, hands folded on her well-kempt desk. A relaxed expression and articulate speech showed the leader inside her that got her where she is today.
Going from officer to patrol and narcotics captain all the way up to major, getting appointed assistant chief and working next to the head honcho, an office fit with a secretary would be all the more necessary. Along with that came more responsibility.
Tackett is one of three assistant chiefs, each with their own divisions to supervise. When Maj. Eddie McCluney retired, Police Chief Marty Sumner said he already knew whom he wanted to fill the position. But just to make sure, he waited about three months, the same amount of time of McCluney’s retirement notice, to make the announcement.
“I was always really impressed with her people skills. I think really highly of someone who’s willing to get their foot in the door and continue to improve, whose skills continue to rise and who’s willing to work really hard for something they want,” Sumner said. “It was an easy decision. It didn’t take me long to make it. I just knew that she was the right one.”
Tackett is in charge of everything that happens in the north end of High Point. That includes the supervision of property crimes detectives, the traffic division and school resource officers. She works closely with Sumner and her two other assistant chief companions, Maj. Larry Casterline and Maj. Kenneth Shultz. Casterline supervises field operations in south High Point, while Shultz heads all major crimes, or violent crimes.
“I’m pretty much the overseer, and they report to me,” Tackett said, referring to the captains and lieutenants she supervises. “I make sure they have the tools to do their job and give them any direction they might need. I’m 100 percent administration now. I don’t really get to go out in the field and play any more. But I’ll let the young folks do that.”
Through the years, she said she’s had many mentors, both male and female. And it’s also something that she is most proud of when it comes to thinking of her accomplishments throughout her 28 years in law enforcement.
“I think I’m proud of the fact that when I leave here, I have mentored and guided folks to take my place,” Tackett said. “There are a lot of great officers in this agency that I’ve had the opportunity to mentor, supervise and to work with that I hope I’ve had a positive impact on, both male and female. We have very good solid female officers in this agency, and I hope that when I retire and leave that some of those ladies will be able to step up and take my place and carry on and maybe one day be chief. And to me, that’s an accomplishment. If you can leave some kind of a legacy or have folks who can do the job when you leave, that’s an accomplishment.”
She doesn’t make a big deal about being the city’s first female assistant chief, although it is something to be proud of.
“At the end of my career, it’s very nice to reflect and see that I did accomplish a goal that I set at 21 years old,” she said. “It’s very rewarding. And it’s nice to be the first one. That’s something that nobody can ever take away from you.”
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